The Difficult Reality of Truck Drivers and Marijuana
Almost everything today is faster than it was a few years ago. We have faster cars, faster cell phones, faster ways of getting medical results. One thing that has not kept pace with the technological curve, is laws and regulations. In todayâ€™s face paced world, our current laws and regulations cannot keep up with the social mores and advances in technology and medicine. Take for instance: Marijuana.
Did you know marijuana is legal in over half of the United States in some form?
While this may be true, it does not mean the transportation industry or the federal government has legalized itâ€™s use in half of the continental U.S. as well. Per the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Drug and Alcohol Testing Regulations:
49 CFR Part 40 section 40.151(e)- does not authorize â€œmedical marijuanaâ€ under a state law to be a valid medical explanation for a transportation employeeâ€™s positive drug test result.
Simply put, as a truck driver, if you fail a drug test and test positive for Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), you should be fired based on the DOT regulations and could face legal actions as well. Itâ€™s basically a double whammy. To the federal government and transportation industry it doesnâ€™t matter if its legal in the state recreationally or medically, to them itâ€™s still illegal. According to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), â€œmarijuana is a Schedule I drug which has no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.â€ What makes it even more tricky for the transportation industry is how long THC remains detectable in comparison to alcohol.
Per Medical News Today, studied have shown that marijuana can be detected in your system:
- For someone smoking marijuana for the first time, tests may detect it for about 3 days.
- In someone who smokes marijuana three or four times per week, the detection window is 5â€“7 days.
- For people who smoke marijuana once a day or more, tests may detect it in their system for 30 days or longer.
- Can detect marijuana in urine for approximately 3-30 days after use
- can detect marijuana for approximately 24 hours after use. Some saliva tests have detected marijuana for up to 72 hours.
- are the most sensitive tests, detecting THC for up to 90 days after use. However, these tests are testing the oil in skin that transfers to hair, and so they may occasionally show a false positive. A person who comes into contact with a THC user could, theoretically, test positive on a hair test.
- can only detect THC for 3â€“4 hours.
This means you can be completely sober, yet still be considered â€œimpaired.â€ That means, do not pass Go, do not collect $200, and go straight to jail (maybe). As more and more states legalize the use of marijuana and medical breakthroughs continue, it still leaves truckers stuck between a rock and a hard place. Even if you partake in it legally at a state level, as soon as youâ€™re on the clock youâ€™re rolling the dice.
Even as the push to legalize marijuana grows, I HIGHLY (pun intended) doubt it will become legalized federally or within the transportation industry anytime soon. We briefly touched on the difficulties with how long THC can remain in the system (which brings about a whole slew of legal ramifications should a drive get into an accident) and we have not even touched on the Federal tax laws, laws regarding transporting marijuana across state lines, and various other laws related to the marijuana in general. One thing to note though, as marijuana becomes more socially acceptable, the pool and availability of â€œcleanâ€ drivers is going to be significantly reduced, until something changes.
While it may not be fair that others can use it, and keep their jobs, the transportation industry is a vital part of our daily lives. It is important to stay vigilant and alert especially in the hazardous materials transportation industry. Life is never fair and is a balance of risk versus reward and only you can decide what is, and what isnâ€™t worth it.
One thing I know that is worth it, is staying up to date with current rules, regulations, and industry trends, such as this one. An easy way to do that is to opt-in to our newsletter where you will receive articles like this, industry news, and special offers. Let us here at Transportation Compliance Associates (TCA) worker harder so you can work smarter! Whether itâ€™s industry leading training, consulting, or full compliance solutions, TCA can help you achieve all your compliance goals. For a FREE consultation, you can reach us at (724) 899-4100 and one of our team members will help you decide what industry leading training and compliance program best suits your needs.